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Are You Clever Elsie or Catastrophic Elsie?

I’ve been collecting Internet advice on how to live more safely and attractively. Here is a list:

Always Do This…

· Always carry a plastic-bread-wrapper-closer in your wallet

· Always carry a crayon in your wallet when traveling

· Always put a plastic water bottle in the wheel-well of your car, when you park

· Put dish soap in the toilet before bed

· Scatter soap in your yard during winter

· Wrap foil around the doorknob, when you are alone

· Pour salt down your drain at night

· Always put an ice cube on a burger, when grilling

· Put a Zip-Lok bag over your car mirror

· Put a dishwasher tab in your oven

· Scatter charcoal throughout your home (Inside?!? Oh my goodness!!)

· Wrap your car keys in foil at night, when you are alone

· Put toothpaste on your nails at night

· Add baking soda to your gray hair

· Mix toothpaste with Vaseline

All these warnings are saying, “Watch out! Bad things will happen, unless you follow these steps.”

Life contains sorrow and loss, along with joy. But Thomas Jefferson said, “How much pain the evils cost us, that never happened.”

We can’t live our lives expecting the worst to happen and trying to ward off evil with a crayon in our wallet or a Zip-Lok bag over our car mirror.

One of my favorite Grimm’s Fairy Tales tells the story of Clever Elsie. There are many versions, but here is my Reader’s Digest summary:

The King sent Clever Elsie to the cellar for more beer.

She took so long, the King went to the cellar looking for her. There he heard wails of anguish and stepped into puddles of tears.

“Clever Elsie! What can have caused you such woe?!!?”

“Oh, m’lord, as I was drawing your beer, I noticed one of the masons has left a pick-axe on the window ledge above. It could have fallen on my head!”

“Ah, but Clever Elsie, your head is fine. Surely you are not crying about that?”

“No, but I thought of the day I have a fine little boy, and

perhaps I will send him to the cellar to draw beer and the pick-axe will fall on his own dear head! And my precious son will die from the accident! And for this I cannot stop weeping over my lost son.”

“Clever Elsie! You are not even married yet and you do not have any children! Am I right?”

“Yes, m’lord, but what if this tragedy does befall me in the future?” And she burst into fresh tears and loud sobbing and wailing.

“Oh, you ninny of a girl. You shall no longer be Clever Elsie, but from this day you will be Catastrophic Elsie, for your ridiculous imaginings.”

Let us not live worrying about possible evils.

Remember Thomas Jefferson’s words, and also Will Rogers, who said, “I know worrying works, because none of the stuff I worried about ever happened.”

Jesus, in the Gospels, said, “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Fine words, but part of being human is to feel anxious at times. When those fears come to me, I try to bring myself into the present. “There is my table. Here is my chair. I am sitting here now. I hear cars outside and smell the eucalyptus in my vase. Deep breath.”

It also helps to have good friends, who can “talk you off the ledge.”

I have pretty much stricken the word “anxious” from my vocabulary. Instead of saying, “I’m anxious to see you,” or “I’m anxious for my trip to get here," I try to replace those words by saying, “I’m EAGER to see you,” and “I’m LOOKING FORWARD to my trip.”

And I ponder the words of Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Do you ever feel anxious? What do you do? Carry a crayon in your wallet?


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